Championship fight comes down to final round for Fredric Aasbo
DALLAS, Texas (September 16, 2019) – Despite a wild weekend that saw driver the Rockstar Energy Drink / Nexen Tire Toyota Corolla Hatchback make an early exit from Formula Drift competition after a big wreck, Team Toyota locked up the Auto Cup for manufacturers and driver Fredric Aasbo will start next month’s series finale at Irwindale Speedway in contention for the championship title.
“I’ve been part of the Toyota family for my entire professional career and it feels very special to be able to lock up a sixth manufacturer’s championship here in Texas, so close to the company’s Plano headquarters,” said Aasbo. “It’s a whole team effort and I’m grateful to be part of it.”
The track is located just 30 miles from Toyota’s American headquarters and many of Aasbo’s biggest fans in the company packed into a VIP trackside suite to catch the championship action. They were not disappointed. The Texas Motor Speedway drift track features sweeping, high speed turns and a course configuration that delivered some of the most exciting competition of the year.
After qualifying 11th and advancing past Kyle Mohan in the opening round of 32, Aasbo met Kazuya Taguchi in the Round of 16. After judges deemed Taguchi at fault for contact between the two cars, Aasbo and his battle scarred Rockstar Energy Drink / Nexen Tire Toyota Corolla Hatchback advanced to the Great 8 to battle Piotr Wiecek.
Starting in the chase position, Aasbo delivered one of his strongest performances of the weekend. The competition intensified as the drivers swapped positions and Wiecek delivered a near flawless performance right up until the final turn when disaster struck and he crashed into Aasbo, sending both cars spinning.
“Putting that pressure on in our first run forced Piotr to push really hard and he made a mistake,” said Aasbo. “I know he didn’t do it on purpose. His chase was the run of the day – right up until it wasn’t anymore, and we were both backwards on the racetrack.”
Although Aasbo was unharmed and judges awarded him the battle win, his vehicle was severely damaged and it was not immediately clear whether he would be able to take the start line for the next round. The veteran Papadakis Racing team was able to straighten key structural components in the limited time available and, despite only having one working taillight and flashlights tied to the front of the car in place of headlights, Aasbo fired the engine and headed out to face his next match. After a few tentative slides to evaluate the vehicle’s handling and put some heat in his tires, he pulled up beside Chelsea DeNofa for the Final 4.
The driver put on a fantastic show for the fans, but his car was struggling and neither his lead or chase run showed his usual textbook consistency. His rival advanced, while Aasbo had to settle for fourth place points.
Up next for Aasbo and the Papadakis Racing team is the season finale in Irwindale, California, October 18 - 19. Aasbo is a serious contender for the title, just 19-points behind series leader and two-time defending champion James Deane.
The Irwindale track, known among racers as the “House of Drift,” is considered the spiritual home of the sport. Aasbo finished second there last year, last winning in 2015 to secure the Formula Drift title that year. He is feeling good about his chances next month.
“The only way for us to finish off the season strong is to treat it as any other race weekend -- which means one corner at a time,” he said. “We have shown all season long that we can hang with the best of them and we have every right to head into the final round with a strong confidence in our team. Bring it on.”
Drifting is a high-skill, high-powered motorsport with an emphasis on car control. In the Formula Drift series, drivers compete in knockout heats on a closed course, sliding sideways in trials judged on speed and style. With origins in Japan, the sport’s growing popularity has meant that livestream and content views for Formula Drift have topped 5.7 million or more for each round.